25 September, 2005

A Life Well-Lived

I don't know how appropriate it is for me to post on this site the obituary of a woman I have never met, but I was moved by what was written about her life. I am a fatalist of sorts? And have often thought "What will be said of me when I am gone?" wondering what legacy I will leave, since most days I feel like I am merely going through the motions, that perhaps I am merely equal to a tree going through the seasons and nothing more. I hope that someone might think this fondly of me.

STEPHENS, Phyllis Bartlett - Phyllis Bartlett Stephens passed away in her sleep on September 10th. Given the life she led and the energy she exuded, it could fairly be said she has passed on to a well-deserved rest. As her mother often said of her, Phyllis was a dutiful, hard-working, caring and intelligent human being from that day in May, 1925 when she was born. The Central Valley was not big enough for Phyllis and shortly after her salutatory address to her Corcoran High classmates in 1943, she left for Stanford. While there, in addition to her dutiful attention to the honor roll, she met a gangly, mediocre pre-med student named Richard Stephens. They continued to date after graduation and in 1948 were married. One year later to the day, the first of their eight children arrived. Over the next 56 years, Phyllis gave herself to raising and supporting her children and grandchildren. But of course, she had energy to spare and an intellect that needed exercise. Her many activities included over 20 years in the San Mateo School system, volunteer work at St. Vincent DePaul, the St. Francis Center, Friends of the Belmont Library, "Friendship House" of San Mateo County Mental Health, AAUW, Twin Pines Cottage and many other groups. She also slipped in some bridge playing. Phyllis also managed to make time for simple statements of her basic beliefs and humanity - whether marching in Delano with central valley farm workers or riding the annual MLK Freedom Train into the City, she was always there to show her support for those not given the love and respect they deserved. Perhaps more than any other, Phyllis devoted her energies to the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Belmont. Her sense of community, based on love, honesty and acceptance (and more than a little humor), was nowhere better illustrated than in her time spent with family and friends at the many parish events held over the past 50 years. Whether she was serving up pancakes in the Parish Hall, or playing the role of Diamond Lil' in the melodrama, she supported and cavorted with her IHM friends and enjoyed every minute of it. Phyllis would no doubt bristle at the suggestion that her "community service" activities were worthy of praise. To her, these were just things people did because they were the right thing to do. She never sought recognition and she rarely, if ever, complained. Perhaps Phyllis' greatest accomplishment in helping others was being able take from it as much as she gave. She understood and appreciated that the love and attention she provided to others less fortunate than her would come back to her in equal measure. The love she gave to her mental health patients or the people at St. Francis', to name a few, could never surpass the love and pleasure she felt in return. And that is Phyllis' legacy. She not only talked about love, fairness, tolerance and Christianity, she lived them every day of her life. Her example will live on in the lives and work of her family and friends. Phyllis leaves behind a loving husband, seven children and their spouses, and 13 grandchildren (and thankfully, her recipes for Aunt Gussie's Pound Cake and her famous brownies). While she will be missed, her family feels very lucky to have spent their lives with Phyllis, and all of them are very proud to call her their wife, mother or grandmother. If desired, Phyllis would have encouraged and appreciated donations to the St. Francis Center, 101 Buckingham Ave, Redwood City, CA, 94063. Services have not yet been scheduled.
Published in the San Francisco Chronicle on 9/25/2005.

23 September, 2005


I've never felt this way before. As difficult as this life with a special needs kid is, I have never felt so sad as I am right now. Jake has thrown four major temper tantrums today...or make that .. all day has been one big temper tantrum.

I don't think school is going well for him. He's increasingly frustrated by his inability to communicate (which is also a good sign). But he is really, really unable to handle going out.... doing errands, anything. Okay maybe it is just today, but lately it has felt like any time we want to go to dinner with Jake we are so miserable by the end of the interaction that we vow never to set foot in a restaurant again.

This is so frustrating because Jake loves to eat. It is the one skill he has always continued to develop right along with his peers. He has always been so happy to go to a restaurant and sit with mom and dad and eat... it started to get difficult about a year ago when he became more independent, and honestly, he makes a bit of a mess so sometimes it is tricky or costs us more in tips to take him out, but it has always been something our family can do together that is normal. Jake has eaten in some of the finest restaurants in California. And now.. just as all of his peers, other 5 year old, are gaining the ability to have table manners and actually sit still through a dinner...our kid can't do it. He just cannot sit there and eat without throwing things or running around.

Okay this has nothing to do with eating at a restaurant. The truth is..I just realized that I spend at least 18 hours a day at my house currently because Jake can't handle the outside world. Now some of that is sleep, but I am only able to accomplish things outside my house...and I mean out side of the house...even the front yard from 7:37-1:06. I suddenly for the first time in my life really, really feel stuck. I have always thought that if I just tried harder, worked harder, did better then I would be able to see my way out of any mess I had found myself in. Jake has been a different albeit sometimes difficult addition to my life, but I have never really felt like my life was permanently and unmovable different in all aspects than what I wanted. Some things different? Yes, but right now...right now it feels like every single thing I thought I would be doing at this point in my life is different than what I expected, harder than I ever imagined, and a lot more covered in crap than I expected.

16 September, 2005

Katrina PeopleFinder Project - Katrina Help Wiki

You can help people find missing loved ones from your own computer. I just logged entries for the last hour. it is a pain, but worth it if it helps one momma find her kid, or a cousin don't you think?

15 September, 2005

Where I Lived and What I Lived For

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

Henry David Thoreau

10 September, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Direct Relief!: Send these supplies!

From another blog Send these supplies

I just went through the house and took every extra bar of soap, travel size shampoo, conditioner, lotion, older sunglasses, baby wipes, face wipes and various other girl stuff, placed each of its kind in ziplock bags (labeled) and mailed it off to a shelter in the south. Then I mailed a case of diapers too. I checked at the post office that the address I had chosen was actually receiving mail. I sent it to a National Guard Armory.

We donated money, but I figure it was only $40.00 to mail the stuff, and I clearly did not need any of it. Maybe that beautiful lavender soap will make someone smile.

07 September, 2005

Samuel L. Jackson Bugs Me

So uhm I just watched the Daily Show with John Stewart...and got bugged again.

Samuel L. Jackson was bashing the Red Cross...something like 'I don't give my money to the Red Cross, because you never know what administrator is going to line his own pockets'. Great... that's just great. As if there weren't enough distrust in the system and blame, and no one is taking care of people etc... now we have this guy saying we should really put our money in the right place and 'do something real' I think the suggestion was something like uhm make dinner for them. So I guess if we want to get together over here and make some macaroni salad, and can you cook up a few pies..and we'll mail them to Louisiana?

So I suppose I got a little fired up and I just posted the following note to his fan page under the "Ask the Man" section. Now I need to go to bed. My kid's bus comes at 7:28 am...which by the way..also bugs me.

Here's my post to the SLJ website...

I am just wondering if you really meant to bash the Red Cross when you were on the John Stewart Show?

I understand that if someone has millions of dollars, perhaps that one person could really set up a meal for 400 or 4000 people, or rent out the hotel etc... but what about the thousands of people who can give just $25.00?

Don't you think that an organization that is so well equipped and has such a strong infrastructure in the U.S., not to mention reasonable overhead, might be a great way for the average American to help the many people hit by this disaster?

I was saddened by your remarks, especially since you reiterated them, so it did appear to be a direct attack. Nearly every relief organization, religious or secular has overhead. If you have a suggestion on how a person in Fresno, or Omaha can buy dinner for someone in New Orleans without the use of infrastructure please pass it on to the rest of us.

Yeah so that's what I wrote... my husband thinks I'm crazy. He's the crazy one...he married me on purpose :)
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